Thursday 25 July 2013

Bible Book:

Matthew 20:20-28 Thursday 25 July 2013


You can imagine the mother of James and John just trying to dothe best for her sons, to get them a bit of an advantage, perhapsbeing egged on by them in the background. But this passage revealsthat she, and her sons, and indeed the rest of the disciples had animperfect understanding of what Jesus' s kingdom wasgoing to be like. They knew he was a king, but applied humanunderstandings of the trappings of royalty, such as power,precedence and superiority.

But Jesus turns the values of the world upside down. Instead ofseeking power, authority and control, this king is a servant. Thosewho wish to follow him must also reject the values of the world.His followers will not be placed in positions of power orsuperiority over one another. Instead they must seek to serve;indeed if they wish to be the first, then they must become a slave,surrendering all power, will and choice.

Jesus challenges James and John whether they can drink from hiscup. This calls to mind Jesus' prayer in Gethsamene on the nightbefore his death, when he asks that, if it is possible, then thecup should be taken away from him (Matthew 26:39-44). This is not a cup of a royalbanquet shared with an honoured guest. It is a bitter cup ofsuffering. Did James and John believe that the reward for sharingsuch a cup would be power and status? Jesus turns their view of thekingdom on its head.

It is a kingdom where the king gives "his life [as] a ransom formany" (v. 28). The king cedes all authority and power, to pay thecost of redeeming others within his own life. You can't get furtherfrom ideas of status and privilege than this kind of sacrifice.

This passage also prompts us to think about the places andpeoples of the world who are today suffering persecution because oftheir commitment to Jesus, people who are indeed drinking from hiscup. Few of us will ever experience such persecution, but thischallenges us to think humbly about ways in which we might followJesus' example and turn the values of the world upside down.

To Ponder

  • How do you think James, John and their mother felt after thisconversation with Jesus?
  • Are there situations where you have, or seek, authority orpower? How can you reflect Jesus' view of the right order ofthings?
  • Do you know of people or situations who are drinking fromJesus' cup and suffering for their faith? How might you supportthem?
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